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Volume 467 Issue 7319, 28 October 2010

This issue of Nature contains the first publication of the results from the pilot phase of The 1000 Genomes Project, an international collaboration that will produce an extensive public catalogue of human genetic variation. The plan, in fact, is to sequence about 2,000 unidentified individuals from 20 populations around the world. Cover credit: Andy Martin.

Postdoc Journal


  • Editorial |

    Innovation within the European Union is wanting for reasons cultural, historical and technical. It can best be strengthened by breaking down barriers and building a united research area.

  • Editorial |

    An upbeat assessment of phosphate reserves leaves several questions unanswered.

  • Editorial |

    Commercial spacecraft with room to carry experiments could give science a lift.

World View

  • World View |

    A revised research spending plan won't meet the challenges Britain faces from its international competitors or from climate change, argues David King.

    • David King

Research Highlights

Seven Days


News Feature


  • Comment |

    Two months on from the court decision that briefly suspended US federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research, uncertainty still stalks the field. Here an ethicist, a team of bankers and a lawyer warn of effects of this saga that could be felt for years to come.

Autumn Books



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The 1000 Genomes Project has completed its pilot phase, sequencing the whole genomes of 179 individuals and characterizing all the protein-coding sequences of many others. Welcome to the third phase of human genomics. See Article p.1061

    • Rasmus Nielsen
  • News & Views |

    Short residence times in the bloodstream reduce the effectiveness of protein drugs. Application of an approach that combines protein and polymer engineering prolongs circulation time and increases drug uptake by tumours.

    • Jeffrey A. Hubbell
  • News & Views |

    Evidence of intense phosphorus weathering following 'snowball Earth' glaciations raises a further possibility — that this revved-up nutrient cycle drove conditions for the explosion of animal life. See Letter p.1088

    • Gabriel M. Filippelli
  • News & Views |

    Prognosis for patients with pancreatic cancer is bleak, often owing to late diagnosis. The estimate that at least 15 years pass from tumour initiation to malignancy offers hope for early detection and prevention. See Letters p.1109 & p.1114

    • E. Georg Luebeck
  • News & Views |

    Stem cells can renew themselves indefinitely — a feature that is often attributed to asymmetrical cell division. Fresh experimental and mathematical models of the intestine provide evidence that begs to differ.

    • Michael P. Verzi
    • Ramesh A. Shivdasani
  • News & Views |

    The more massive a neutron star is, the greater the constraints it places on the nature of the matter at its core. The discovery of a new mass record holder has strengthened those constraints considerably. See Letter p.1081

    • M. Coleman Miller
  • News & Views |

    The crystal structure of a protein channel provides clues about the mechanisms that control the closure of pores found in the epidermis of plant leaves. Excitingly, the protein channel folds in a way never seen before. See Article p.1074

    • Sébastien Thomine
    • Hélène Barbier-Brygoo


  • Article | | Open Access

    The goal of the 1000 Genomes Project is to provide in-depth information on variation in human genome sequences. In the pilot phase reported here, different strategies for genome-wide sequencing, using high-throughput sequencing platforms, were developed and compared. The resulting data set includes more than 95% of the currently accessible variants found in any individual, and can be used to inform association and functional studies.

    • Richard M. Durbin
    • David Altshuler (Co-Chair)
    • Gil A. McVean
  • Article |

    SLAC1 is a plant ion channel that controls turgor pressure in the guard cells of plant stomata, thereby regulating the exchange of water vapour and photosynthetic gases in response to environmental signals. Here, the X-ray crystal structure of a bacterial homologue of SLAC1 has been solved, and structure-inspired mutagenesis has been used to analyse the conductance properties of the channel. The findings indicate that selectivity among different anions is largely a function of the energetic cost of ion dehydration.

    • Yu-hang Chen
    • Lei Hu
    • Wayne A. Hendrickson


  • Letter |

    Neutron stars comprise the densest form of matter known to exist in our Universe, but their composition and properties are uncertain. Measurements of their masses and radii can constrain theoretical predictions of their composition, but so far it has not been possible to rule out many predictions of 'exotic' non-nucleonic components. Here, radio timing observations of the binary millisecond pulsar J1614-2230 are presented, allowing almost all currently proposed hyperon or boson condensate equations of state to be ruled out.

    • P. B. Demorest
    • T. Pennucci
    • J. W. T. Hessels
  • Letter |

    Isolated magnetic atoms doped into a semiconductor represent an interesting system for spintronics applications and a possible means of constructing quantum bits. So far, however, it has not been possible to study the correlation between the local atomic structure and the dopant's magnetic properties. Here, sensitive scanning probe techniques have been developed that allow the spin excitations of individual magnetic dopants within a two-dimensional semiconductor system to be measured.

    • Alexander A. Khajetoorians
    • Bruno Chilian
    • Roland Wiesendanger
  • Letter |

    Phosphorus is a biolimiting nutrient that is important in regulating the redox state of the ocean–atmosphere system. Here, the ratio of phosphorus to iron in iron-oxide-rich sedimentary rocks through time has been used to evaluate the evolution of the marine phosphate reservoir. Phosphate concentrations have been relatively constant over the past 542 million years of Earth's history, but were high in the aftermath of the 'snowball Earth' glaciations some 750 to 635 million years ago, with implications for the rise of metazoan life.

    • Noah J. Planavsky
    • Olivier J. Rouxel
    • Timothy W. Lyons
  • Letter |

    Here, the seismic anisotropy of the Earth's lowermost mantle between North and Central America has been measured, using shallow and deep earthquakes to increase the azimuthal coverage. The findings show that the previously assumed vertical transverse isotropy — where wave speed should show no azimuthal variation — is not possible, and that more complicated mechanisms must be involved.

    • Andy Nowacki
    • James Wookey
    • J-Michael Kendall
  • Letter |

    The origin of the anthropoids (higher primates, including monkeys, apes and humans) is mysterious. Fossils from the Eocene epoch in Africa have suggested that the anthropoids originated there, but this has been challenged by findings in Asia. Here, the discovery is reported of the oldest known diverse assemblage of African anthropoids, from the Eocene of Libya. The diversity of species found suggests either a long interval of anthropoid evolution in Africa, or the nearly synchronous colonization of Africa by several anthropoid clades.

    • Jean-Jacques Jaeger
    • K. Christopher Beard
    • Michel Brunet
  • Letter |

    Here, human genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data from more than 15,000 parent–offspring pairs have been used to construct the first recombination maps that are based on directly observed recombination events. The data reveal interesting differences between the sexes: for instance, in males recombination tends to shuffle exons, whereas in females it generates new combinations of nearby genes. Comparison of these maps with others also reveals population differences.

    • Augustine Kong
    • Gudmar Thorleifsson
    • Kari Stefansson
  • Letter |

    Neurons in the medial temporal lobe are selectively responsive to particular visual objects, but their activity is modulated by internal cognitive effects. Here it is shown that humans can regulate the activity of their MTL neurons to alter the outcome of the contest between external images and their internal representation. Using a brain–machine interface, subjects looked at a hybrid superposition of two images and had to enhance one image at the expense of the other, using cognitive strategies such as attention and imagery.

    • Moran Cerf
    • Nikhil Thiruvengadam
    • Itzhak Fried
  • Letter |

    Pancreatic cancer is highly aggressive, usually because of widespread metastasis. Here, next-generation DNA sequencing has been used to detect genomic rearrangements in 13 patients with pancreatic cancer and to explore clonal relationships among metastases. The results reveal not only considerable inter-patient heterogeneity, but also ongoing genomic instability and evolution during the development of metastases.

    • Peter J. Campbell
    • Shinichi Yachida
    • P. Andrew Futreal
  • Letter |

    Here, whole-genome sequencing has been used to analyse primary pancreatic tumours and one or more metastases from the same patients. The findings show that tumours are composed of several geographically distinct subclones, and allow maps to be produced showing how metastatic cancer clones evolve within the primary tumour. Moreover, a quantitative analysis of the timing of the genetic evolution of pancreatic cancer has been performed.

    • Shinichi Yachida
    • Siân Jones
    • Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue
  • Letter |

    Semaphorin proteins mediate signal transduction by interacting with plexin receptors; they have key roles in neuronal development and many other biological processes. Here, crystal structures are presented of the semaphorin-binding regions of plexin B1 and plexin A2 with their cognate semaphorin ectodomains. On the basis of these structures, a signalling mechanism is proposed.

    • Bert J. C. Janssen
    • Ross A. Robinson
    • E. Yvonne Jones
  • Letter |

    Semaphorin proteins mediate signal transduction by interacting with plexin receptors; they have key roles in neuronal development and many other biological processes. Here, crystal structures are presented of the semaphorin 6A receptor-binding fragment and the plexin A2 ligand-binding fragment in their pre-signalling and signalling states. On the basis of these structures, a signalling mechanism is proposed.

    • Terukazu Nogi
    • Norihisa Yasui
    • Junichi Takagi
  • Letter |

    Piwi-associated RNAs (piRNAs) are small RNAs with several functions in the germline, such as repressing transposable elements and helping to maintain germline stem cells. Now, a function for piRNAs has been discovered outside the germline, in the fruitfly embryo. Specifically, piRNAs are required for the decay of the messenger RNA encoding the posterior morphogen Nanos. When piRNA-induced regulation is impaired, this mRNA is stabilized and developmental defects ensue.

    • Christel Rouget
    • Catherine Papin
    • Martine Simonelig

Technology Feature



  • Feature |

    Berlin is an international hotspot for young scientists. Now it has to provide the incentives to help them stay long term.

    • Quirin Schiermeier


  • Q&A |

    Greg Graffin has found a way to pursue his dual passions for evolutionary biology and music.

    • Gene Russo

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    European Commission aims for more user-friendly, flexible process.

  • Career Brief |

    Lack of political support hinders effort to boost number of women in Europe's science research leadership.


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